Author Kristen Tsetsi and I decided to pull a little "blog hop switcheroo" in which we'd exchange the same series of questions and then present them on each other's blogs. We modified the original blog hop questions slightly in order to make them more appealing for everyday readers and not writers only.
And so, without further ado, here she is, talking about her novel Pretty Much True...
Q: What is the title of your book?
A: Pretty Much True...
Q: How did you come up with that title?
A: In Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut writes, "All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true." I read that after I'd finished writing the story, and I thought, "How perfect!" The story, while a fictional account, is still very much true. Especially the war parts.
Q: What was another title you considered instead, and what happened there?
A: War and Peas was one. But I think I was about 3/4 of the way through writing it and feeling punchy at the time. I must have been, because there are no peas in the story. Vodka, a slice of cheese, and mayonnaise, yes, but no peas. Mia's not what you'd call a healthy eater.
Q: What is your book's genre?
Literary fiction, but only because it's hard to shelve anywhere else. There's love and romance and sex, but it's not a romance novel. The protagonist is female, but I don't know that I'd classify it as "women's fiction" - Mia's experience is not universally (nor uniquely) female. There's action, but it's largely internal, and suspense, but not the kind that has readers waiting for a killer to turn the corner. (Well, actually...I take that back.)
Q: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in the screen adaptation that will most certainly be produced?
Mia (the English professor-turned-cab driver): Ellen Page or Kristen Stewart. Enough said, probably.
Jake (Mia's boyfriend, an Apache pilot in Iraq): Someone passably good-looking, but largely unknown.
Donny Donaldson: Terry Kiser Terry Kiser Terry Kiser! I would pay him from my own checking account if I could afford him.
Jake's mother Olivia: Kathy Bates. Olivia is annoying, a little flighty, and a steamroller. Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes immediately comes to mind.
And I'd love a brunette Dakota Fanning to play the marriage-trapped (but wise) Denise. Except she might still be too young.
Q: What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A: A professor-turned-cab driver afraid she'll never see her war-fighting soul mate again befriends a Vietnam veteran and a bad habit or two as her once-normal life becomes an exercise in long-distance relationship management, friendship avoidance, "couples" party handling, and war protest etiquette.
Q: What relationship (between characters) is the most complicated, and what's complicating it for them?
A: Mia and Denise, whose significant others are both at war, have the most complicated relationship. Although both are waiting, they're waiting for very different reasons, which creates increasing strain and distance while simultaneously forcing them together. They're also clashing personality types: Mia is reactionary and passionate, and Denise is almost infuriatingly calm and cool.
Q: Who or what inspired the book's protagonist?
A: Mia as the story's protagonist was borne of my experience, but she as a more complex person/personality was inspired by the things I believe many of us have inside, at one time or another, and are loathe to share or admit to. And I don't mean bad things, necessarily.
Q: Fill in the blank: Readers who enjoyed _______ will also enjoy my book.
A: Based on what readers have said: genre fiction, The Things They Carried, The Bell Jar, Paint it Black, or books by Margaret Atwood or Janet Fitch.
Q: Who or what inspired the story?
A: This is probably an obnoxious answer, but it was inspired by the need to tell it. Most of the stories I've told (in my short fiction) have been inspired by powerful (or subtle, but nagging) personal experiences, and waiting for my lovey love soul mate guy to make it back from Iraq alive was the most passionate, intense, surreal, aggravating, action-packed (emotionally speaking), suspenseful, exciting, and sorrowful experience I've ever had (or expect to have) in my life. How do you not write that story?
Additionally, the larger "waiting" experience is one very few people know much about on a level that goes beyond what we see in the media. I'm nosy, and I assume others are, too, so I like to try to get behind curtains and invite others to see what I found.
Q: What is your favorite line of dialogue a character delivers? (No context.)
A: Donny (60-something man) says to Mia (twenty-something woman), "I'm old enough to be your daughter."
Q: When and how will it be published?
Missouri Breaks Press published it in September 2012. Pretty Much True... can be found in most online bookstores, is available for Kindle, and can be ordered from brick-and-mortars.
I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.